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Author Topic: THE SLOW DEATH OF HAM RADIO FLEA MARKETS...  (Read 59622 times)
K2LGO
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« on: September 08, 2011, 04:12:57 AM »

   At the risk of starting a firestorm, I do indeed believe that the best days of the ham radio flea markets are behind us...Of course we all know the reasons...Flea Bay and the internet, definitely
dealing the majority of the death blow, closely followed by the lack of interest in building and buying parts...
   As for new radios, MOST (not all) dealers can sit behind their 1-800 facade, and probably realize a greater profit than by horse assing themselves across a couple of states to show their wares...
   I was introduced to the ham radio flea market by my dear friend W2OQI(SK) in 1974, and I believe one of the first ones was LIMARC, possibly at the old Islip Speedway which used to exist here on L.I.  When I walked into that atmosphere I thought I was in ham heaven, with hundreds of sellers, and more buyers than I can describe...  But alas most(once again not all) L.I. flea markets are now held indoors.
   I now understand that my last bastion of hope, TIMONIUM has been reduced to one day, and will be all indoors, and of course I understand the reason.
   So it appears that if you cannot sell all your acquired treasures in your lifetime, they will wind up at the landfill..
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N2OIO
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 04:51:11 AM »


 Sign of the times..

 Remember when Radio Shack sold radio gear and parts? Those were great days...

 I was always a big fleamarket fan since a young child....Those have dried up as well unless you want knockoff pocketbooks or cheap socks...

 I decided to get back into 2m/70cm lately only to find nobody around to talk to...All the packed repeaters of years past are dead quiet all day now..

 I guess I will hold off on picking up a new H.t. lol

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AB4D
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 07:15:48 AM »

All the ham fests I have attended lately are much smaller than in the past. The quality and quantity of gear available at the tailgate areas has also declined, I hate to say this, but the mentality has also declined.  I remember up through the 90's most ham fests were bustling places to find quality gear and parts, a great experience.  Now, its loaded with computer and cb radio junk, and maybe a handful of radios I would say are worthy of taking home.  A lot of the gear I've see in the tailgate area is old corroded or smoke stained junk that appears was stored in someone's shed, parts aren't much better. I've seen folks trying to sell heavily pitted and corroded variable capacitors.  Don't they know this part is basically ruined?  I would say at least 50% of the stuff I see at ham fests should be placed in a trash can.  I've literally seen someone with an HF rig,  setting on ground in a mud puddle during a rain storm, asking a ridiculous price.

I suppose most of the high quality gear ends up on places like e-bay, where bidders caught up in the moment pay nearly new prices for 20 year old gear. Who can blame a ham for trying to get the most he can for a piece of gear.  Our hobby is not inexpensive.   Unfortunately, I don't see this trend reversing, until the ham radio community decides otherwise, by participating more in their local ham fests.

73

Jim

73     
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WB7X
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 08:48:32 AM »


 Sign of the times..

 Remember when Radio Shack sold radio gear and parts? Those were great days...

 I was always a big fleamarket fan since a young child....Those have dried up as well unless you want knockoff pocketbooks or cheap socks...

 I decided to get back into 2m/70cm lately only to find nobody around to talk to...All the packed repeaters of years past are dead quiet all day now..

 I guess I will hold off on picking up a new H.t. lol



And Lafayette.
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W5DWH
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 10:31:15 AM »

 I have only been a ham for 4 years so I don't know how it was years ago.

Some of the smaller ones may be declining but the larger ones are going strong.

These seem to be doing fine:
Ham-com in Plano Texas,
Belton Hamfest in Belton, Texas
Ardmore OK Hamarama, is actually growing. This year they have rented more space in the Ardmore Convention Center.

My only complaint about hamfests is that they shouldn't let vendor sell stuff that's not ham related - except for food of course.  Smiley

A hamfest is not just about the flea market, it's meeting up with your old friends and making new ones.

I will however admit that if I had any newer gear to sell I would put it on Ebay as I have a  larger audience.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 10:04:38 AM »

I enjoy my homebrew linear amplifier.... which was constructed mostly by parts acquired at two hamfests I attended.  It took me 5 years to accumulate the parts but they were found at these two hamfests.

Since then, I now attend only one hamfest and it is waning each year.  I also make it a point to look for components for a linear.... not because I want to build another one but because I use this 'search' as a yardstick on what is available.  I've concluded it would be extremely difficult to find enough parts to build one these days.   Angry

4D, Jim's observations and conclusions are spot on.  It's a very sad thing.  

The new hams have missed a great facet of ham radio!
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 10:06:09 AM by K8AXW » Logged
W1ITT
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 01:56:38 PM »

For 34 years, my pals K1RQG (sk), W1GWU and I ran the Hosstraders hamfest, New England's largest.  One of my measuring standards for a "good" hamfest was whether I could build a full kilowatt amplifier with 99% of the parts available at that one hamfest.  For many years it was easily possible.  Other people have differing interests and goals.  We fought hard to keep the non-ham junk and general flea market stuff out, but increasingly, the better radios and components were consigned to Ebay for access to a wider and perhaps more lucrative market.  And Pentium I computers, old 386s and old 23 channel cb radios started showing up, in the hopes that some greater fool would buy them.  Many of these ended up in our trash at the end of the day and we had to pay for the disposal of special "e-waste".
Finally, after 34 years, and $1.3 million in contributions to Shriners' Hospitals we gave it up.  My work travels take me around the country, and I rarely miss the opportunity to see how the other guys do it.  Things are going the same way everywhere.  I think the 80's and 90's were probably the best years for hamfests.  I'm thankful that I was around to enjoy those good times.  I still enjoy visiting a hamfest and seeing old faces with more gray hair atop the heads.  Old friends are fun, but the flea market is now in its elder years, heading for the "home". No amount of nostalgia will change that.
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K0PD
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2011, 06:00:08 AM »

Where i live there is no Ham Store or Ham fest or even a radio club. I'm in western Kansas the Ham fest we once had in our area are all long gone. Colby Kansas used to have a well atteneded one but the last time i went over ten years ago it was 90% junk and computers and it is now no longer. There was a couple of small ones that are no longer but the one at Beaver Oklahoma was a really nice one with a well balanced pick of ham gear but was more like a Ham operators get together and very friendly. I agree E bay and the internet has done a lot to kill the Ham fests but i think it has more to do with the aging of the Ham population and in general lack of interest.
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N9LCD
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2011, 07:52:52 AM »

Some observations:

The cost of driving to a flea market is well into the "PROHIBITIVE" range.  KARS fest in Peotone is about $36 worth of gas.  The CFMC fest at Belvidere is about $75.  Every buck spent on gas is that much less for spending on radios.

I'm hesitant to pay much more than $100 for gear that's been outside who knows how many days. If it's been sitting out in blowing dust (or worst), it's at least a "clean'er up" if not a "fix'er up".  If it's inside, I'd be more willing to consider it.

It's EASIER, MORE CONVENIENT AND CHEAPER to find something I'm looking for on line.  When's the last time you've seen anything other than junker Racal, Watkins-Johnson, or Hewlett-Packard gear at an expo?  If you see any at all?

The sellers at fests are NOT more honest than on line sellers.  Believe it or not, I had one clown try to sell me a rusty piece of junk, claiming it was removed from the radio room of the USS Arizona AFTER it blew-up.

Yeah, I miss the big "ol' time" fests, especially HamFesters at Santa Fe Speedway and CFMC at Grayslake.  I also miss my 440 Cordoba.  But times change!

N9LCD

 Sad

         
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KB1TXK
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 11:16:52 AM »

I had one clown try to sell me a rusty piece of junk, claiming it was removed from the radio room of the USS Arizona AFTER it blew-up.

Well that explains why its so rusty, doesn't it?  God you guys nitpick too much.


(That was sarcasm, btw Wink )
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W3NUS
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2011, 07:23:15 PM »

Ebay+Hams=Greed! No one goes to hamfests because they want to have some ignorant, jerk who doesn't know a thing about electronics or radio bid up the price of an item and end up with it. Then they probably get on ten meters without a license and try to talk to someone. No one else goes because they are tired of being jerked around by these greedy jerks. The last hamfest I went to there were pages on tables taken directly from Ebay stating what Ebay's prices were! Hams themselves have taken the fun out of hamfests. Pitiful isn't it?
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N3WD
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2011, 10:26:25 PM »

I have been involved in running the Timonium Hamfest for their entire existence. Many people are complaining about the decline of hamfests and YES hamfests are declining.  Before everyone slams hamfests on non-ham radio items please remember why hamfests are held. They are held to raise money for the sponsoring organization.  Timonium is now one day and one building for one simple reason. It costs $14,000 additional dollars for the second building and second day. Why has outdoor tailgating been dissolved? Simple you have to rent at least 2 buildings to have control of the fairgrounds. If anyone wants to pony up $14,000 we will get the 2nd building, go back to 2 days and have outdoor tailgating. Heck, if someone gives us $14,000 we will even have FREE outdoor tailgating. Also, why is it there are over 30,000 hams within 150 miles of Baltimore and we can only get 5,000 to attend? Where are the other 25,000+?

There are a few reasons for the decline. Of course the internet in general and the ability to sell equipment at anytime without leaving their homes. E-bay and all the other sites that have virtual hamfests, but also remember that today there are many more hamfests than in the past.

Second, where are the ma and pa radio stores of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s… GONE. I can name 7 ham radio dealers that are out of business that were located within 100 miles of Baltimore. We now have 2 HRO of Delaware and HRO in Woodbridge, VA.

Third, COMPUTERS. Yes, computers are what made Hamfests so large. Back in the early 90’s most hamfests were 70% computer and 30% ham radio show. Even the people attending were 70/30 in favor of computer. Why have hamfests declined? Back then you could not get a computer anywhere BUT at a hamfest. Now every store sells them. How many stores and how many on-line sites are computer related.  So take 70% away from 10,000 in attendance and you get 3,000. Take away 70% from 100 vendor spaces and you get 30.

Fourth, is the aging ham radio population and how one gets involved in ham radio. How many clubs have had declining membership and participation due to age? Where are the new younger hams? They are not around. Between our lives getting so busy and the entire technology boom, ham radio is suffering. Yes people will say that there are more “NEW” hams than ever before but how many of those “NEW” hams actually get involved? How many of those “NEW” hams never renew their licenses 10 years down the road. I remember getting involved in ham radio by having someone who actually worked with me and once I got my licensed taught me how to operate on the radio, introduced me to the ARRL, and took me to my first 3 hamfests and walked around with me giving me advice. How many hams now get the book and sit at home studying? Then they go to a testing session and take the exam. They pass the exam walk out the door and most are never seen again.

Want to help out hamfests, ATTEND them.  The more people who attend hamfests the easier it is to get more ham vendors.

Bill, N3WD
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K2LGO
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2011, 04:44:18 PM »

Hello Bill(N3WD)
   I started this thread, and I'm sure we have met as I have attended the Timonium hamfest for the last 5 years, and counted it among the best...
   I was actually going to query one of your members about why they did away with the outdoor flea market, but you indeed answered that for me...
   I believe most hams (me included) have no idea of the cost of running such a large venue...I think you put everything in perspective, so no need to beat a dead horse any longer...but I must admit that I have this feeling that next year, your group will find a way to have an outdoor flea market once again...
   Thanks for all your past efforts...I traveled 270 miles to get there, and never regretted it...and I really liked that Crown Plaza hotel...BOB Smiley
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N9LCD
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2011, 08:09:06 PM »

Bill:

I've been on committees for a lot of events over the years.  Yes, major events are not cheap.  Hopefully you get enough "sponsorships" so that the "gate" is pure profit.

I agree with your point that MORE ATTENDANCE = MORE HAM VENDORS.

In the Chicago area, we have about seven club-sponsored fests.  All but one are shrinking.  I've always felt that one "big" fest would beat five or six marginal ones.

But one "big" fest means working together, sharing revenue based on the number of tickets each participating club sells.  Has anybody done that?  Will they ever do it?

PROBABLY NOT!

Why?

EGO!

"It's our fest.  We've always done it that way.  And we'll keep doing it that way until nobody walks through the front gate."

N9LCD
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N3WD
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2011, 09:44:57 AM »

I was part of another Hamfest that was a shared venture between two clubs. It got to be a big fight over who did what and we deserve more because we did more work and had more volunteers etc.

Major dissapointment.

N3WD
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